The “Us” in “You” and “Me” Time

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about changes to the daily workflow for many of us. One obvious change is the increase in work-from-home arrangements. There certainly are many benefits working from home. For one it is more comfortable. We have our favorite snacks within reach along with that couch or chair that your lower back thanks you for. Gone are the days of having to brave rush hour traffic, working from home means we save time from travelling to and from the workplace. Additionally, this means more time for us to spend with our family. There is also less need to travel to meet clients at physical locations, after all we can always meet on video conferencing platforms like Skype, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams.

But with the rise in adoption of work-from-home arrangements come dangers to our wellbeing. We may not always be aware of or conscious about these dangers, particularly when they first manifest. Remember not having to travel to work? Well, that also means that work can start the moment we get out of our comfy bed. That one hour that you used to have listening to a podcast while travelling to your workplace is now replaced with a one-hour meeting with the team.

On the topic of meetings, what about the convenience of organizing and holding virtual meetings? Some of us have realized that cramming virtual meetings back-to-back is not such a good idea. It has become easier to do more, and so we feel compelled to do so. Work hours start blending in with outside office hours. Just one more meeting, just one more email, just one more hour, just one more thing. The resulting consequence is that meetings drag on longer than they should, we pay less attention during meetings, overall productivity drops, and we experience burnout.

Part of dealing with burnout is to schedule time to rejuvenate ourselves. This rejuvenation time is what one might call “me time”. However, with work extending past official work hours and eating into our personal time, compounded by the situation that most of our family members are constantly at home facing each other, this “me time” is starting to become rare.
In my opinion, “me time” is not always about solitude. You can have “me time” whilst interacting with someone else. For example, it can be cathartic to talk to someone about your stress, uncertainties, or emotions. Think about the times you shared the good, the bad, and the ugly of your life with your friends, or family. By talking to someone, you have created time for yourself to reflect on these issues as well as provide opportunity to receive support from those around you. This “me time” helps you reduce your stress and re-energize.
Furthermore, “me time” is not necessarily selfish. More than one individual can experience “me time” simultaneously. Using the same scenario as the example above the listener may empathize with you at certain moments of your sharing or reflect on similar issues with their own life. In essence, your “me time” can create “me time” for another person.

The time spent on your well-being should not be viewed as time wasted. Rather, instead of spending your time in an objectively unproductive manner feeling tired and half-alert at virtual meetings, consider spending some high-quality time with someone else, or even a group of friends, in the mutually beneficial quest for “me time”.

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